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Awareness Week Recap November 23, 2010

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National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week was a great success in Asheville and Buncombe County this year. During the week of November 14-20 2010, the Asheville-Buncombe Homeless Initiative raised awareness about homelessness, dispelled myths, and talked with the community about existing efforts to end homelessness. Through our partnership with AB Tech, UNCA, Warren-Wilson College, Buncombe County Schools and Libraries, Asheville City Schools and Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café, we were able to reach people throughout the Asheville-Buncombe area.

The week started with a proclamation by City Council, acknowledging the importance of the week. The proclamation was accepted by Homeless Initiative Staff and staff from UNCA’s Key Center, which worked with students on a food drive and other awareness raising activities throughout the week.

AB Tech’s Holly Library featured a display at the entrance of their library for over two weeks that included facts about homelessness and suggestions for related media (books, movies and more). Librarians reported that anywhere from 800-1000 visitors passed by the display each day, leading to requests for information and conversation about homelessness.

Along with AB Tech, UNCA’s Ramsey Library, Buncombe County Libraries, the City of Asheville all featured interactive displays. Filled with information and resources, the displays also prompted individuals to write their thoughts or feelings about homelessness and hang them on the display for others to read and think about.


Buncombe County and Asheville School staff were excited to join us too. They created a list of facts about homelessness available to over forty schools through the Buncombe County website, while the school librarians distributed a list of books about homelessness used by students and teachers to help during classroom discussions and activities.  Students asked each other questions like: “When you went to bed last night, did you have a snack? Did you have a comfortable, safe place to sleep? What is it like to be hungry, or not have a place to call home?” By doing so, our local schools enabled thousands of children to be educated on a very important topic.

To bring the information alive for older students, the Homeless Initiative was pleased to engage in a dialogue about the 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness during a panel discussion hosted by Warren-Wilson College.

Another engaging dialogue on homelessness took place at Malaprop’s. The dialogue was on The Soloist by Steve Lopez, which was selected by Homeless Initiative Facebook fans as the book for the community read.  Everyone at the discussion was so interested in the event that additional discussions and book-reads on the issue of homelessness are now being planned.  To further illuminate the story of The Soloist, UNCA’s Key Center held a movie screening of The Soloist for about 20 students and community members who turned out and made pledges to end homelessness.

The first step towards ending homelessness is to help grow people’s knowledge and, in Asheville-Buncombe this year, we accomplished that over this year’s Homelessness and Hunger Awareness week. Thanks to everyone who helped out and joined in!

To learn more about the Homeless Initiative and how you can get involved, visit our website or Facebook page.


Homeless dialogue based on The Soloist November 17, 2010

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2010's National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week is November 14-20. As part of the scheduled events, participants attended a discussion at Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe about the book The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

More than 10 agency representatives, community members and people experiencing homelessness came out for the community book discussion based on The Soloist by Steve Lopez at Malaprop’s Bookstore and Café on November 16, 2010.

The book discussion was held as part of the scheduled events for National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week (November 14-20). The week is designed to raise awareness of homelessness in order to dispel myths that homelessness is someone else’s problem and to help people learn about how to join in the community’s work to end homelessness.

The Soloist is a book about a journalist who meets a talented musician who is experiencing homelessness, the relationship they form and the challenges they face as the musician struggles to find and maintain housing. By reading a common book, everyone had a similar framework with which to begin a conversation about homelessness and hunger. We couldn’t have been more pleased at how this worked out! The conversation began around some of the themes of The Soloist and quickly turned into a remarkable exchange of ideas, stories and experiences.

Ending homelessness is a collaborative effort and events like the book discussion promote community-wide dialogue, create approaches and vital insights from a diverse group of people.

During the book discussion, many participants expressed the need for more one-on-one interactions between people from all walks of life as a way to minimize isolation and mistrust and create more comprehensive, effective responses. This need has also been a topic at the Homeless Initiative as we try to find creative ways to bring people together to develop networks of support and action that alleviate the impact homelessness has on everyone in the community.

Recently we’ve explored using social media as a tool to bridge communication gaps. Participants in the discussion suggested that social media could be used to share the stories and experiences of people experiencing homelessness to a much wider audience and, by doing so, help to combat the many myths that surround homelessness and set the stage for a more comprehensive and productive dialogue about how we can end homelessness.

National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week isn’t over yet! UNCA is holding a food drive all this week to benefit the Family Resource Center at Emma and tomorrow at 7pm in the UNCA Humanities Lecture Hall is a FREE screening of The Soloist. Hope to see you all there!

The Homeless Initiative cannot do what we do without your participation and input. If you have an idea for an event, how to get people involved or if you want to learn more generally, please contact us. We love hearing from you! You can also learn more about the going’s on at the Homeless Initiative by checking out our Facebook page.

Calendar of events for National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week November 9, 2010

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For communities across the country, November 14th-20th is National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week!  Join us for dialogue, a food drive, a movie, and a community-read of The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

Below is a calendar of upcoming events:

November 9, 5PM, City Hall (2nd Floor) City Council Proclaims that November 14-20, 2010 is National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness Week in Asheville, NC.

November 14-20, UNCA Campus Food Drive – all food will be donated to the Emma Family Resource Center

November 16, 3PM, Malaprops Bookstore Community read-in and discussion of The Soloist by Steve Lopez.

November 16, 5:30pm, Gladfelter Building, Warren Wilson College Looking Homeward: 10-Year Plan to End Homelessness Panel Discussion

November 17, 7pm, UNCA Justice Center UNCA Women’s Basketball Game and Food Drive, tickets start at $6 for general admission.

November 18, 7pm, UNCA Humanities Lecture Hall Movie screening of The Soloist. FREE! Food Donations welcome.

Communities use National Homelessness and Hunger Awareness week to promote existing efforts to end hunger and homelessness while engaging the community in a dialogue that can lead to greater awareness and collaboration.

This year the theme is “Bringing America Home” so we’re asking people like you to bring a book home to learn about homelessness and then join us for community events to learn how you can join us ensuring that everyone has a safe, decent, affordable place to call home.

We would love to have you, your colleagues, and your family participate in some of the events scheduled for the week.  Or, if you’re near a Buncombe County, AB Tech, UNCA, or Warren Wilson Library, stop in and ask the librarian about homelessness – they’re ready for you!

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